Oni Chukwu, head of etouches, tells Karen Yue that as the use of technology seeps into our daily lives, business events are forced to head the same way
What is the one biggest change you are seeing happening to meetings and events?
Technology is woven deeper into meeting and events, to a point now that attendees and organisers both realise that without using fairly immersive technology, meetings are not as successful. In my opinion, this is an exciting time to be in the meetings and events industry.
What sort of technology are you talking about?
Augmented reality, virtual reality, immersive videos (also known as 360-degree videos) and (transmitter devices like) iBeacon.
Why do you think the technology wave is sweeping into meetings and events?
People don’t use use one level of technology at home and a different one at work; they expect the same level of technology and convenience in both environments. Look at the way the Internet of Things has crept into our homes – we can control the functions of our refrigerators or TVs remotely. So, this is familiar to people and they expect the same level of technology when they are at work and at events.
Another reason is the changing demographic of event planners and attendees – the average age is coming down and the younger generation is tech-savvy and used to the application of technology in everything they do.
How can event technology benefit organisers and attendees?
There are tech-driven services that allow organisers to obtain tons of information about attendees, which can then be used as ammunition for marketers. For attendees, they can get involved in activities on the show floor, learn in an interactive manner, expand their networking capacity and collect information that goes direct to their emails instead of into their bags.
Take augmented reality for instance. It allows delegates’ experience to be significantly enriched, and we know that people attend events to learn and to meet other people.
But isn’t the cost of having such technology as augmented reality and virtual reality high and prohibitive?
Well, true. There has not been much application of augmented reality at meetings and events because it is fairly expensive to work. But think about driverless cars. A year or two ago, people say it isn’t possible to implement and it is too costly. Yet it is happening now. Today, the cost of augmented reality usage is starting to come down.
For now, immersive videos are much more within reach because they are affordable, and are being used at events today. It can cost a few thousands of dollars to produce (marketing materials in the form of immersive videos), depending on how elaborate the content is, how you want to engage your delegates, and how many delegates you want to engage.
Let’s talk about the rise in younger event organisers and attendees in this industry. How is etouches preparing to better serve these people?
We set up the eTouches University three years ago. It trains the younger generation of event planners in available products and latest techniques, and alerts them to technology trends in event management.
The web-based course is a certification programme with many levels and comes with an exam – it is serious stuff.
We offer it for free to our clients, and have had a couple of thousand students globally since launch. We intend to open it up to other folks in the events industry.